How consciousness works...(maybe)
...(and maybe how to build a computer that comes close to emulating it...)
We cannot hope to understand our universe until we come to understand the nature of the observer: ourselves.
All we know, we know because we experience change.
We are fairly simple devices, insofar as input as concerned: we observe via organs capable of detecting change. There is nothing else in our awareness toolbox except this ability (to sense change.)
Thus, every experiment we design can only show us change. Human languages are expressive of change, even mathematics (combinatorials are merely an observation of change.) Everything we observe fits within a pattern of change, and these patterns have definite shapes and qualities (else everything would be chaotic) which can be discerned and used.
Does a mountain change? Yes, but slowly. Does a tea cup change? Yes, but too fast to observe (as the electron cloud mutates.) So, if everything changes, why do we see the tea cup as a single thing?
Because the tea cup continues to change in this moment as it changed in the moment before. It is this that gives rise to our sensation of time (not to mention time as linear) else all change would occur at once (which may, in fact, be true: hence relativity.)
Whence the observing "I"? From each of our cells being aware of the change in it's neighbor, it arises. There is not so much an "I" but more a "we". And it is this that lies at the heart of the living experience.
So everything changes and that's all we know. Can we use this information and test it scientifically? Sure. Change has only one basic pattern or shape. If we observe it, we can deduce the effects of a cause: we can conduct an experiment and predict the outcome.
The Shape of Change
So what is the 'shape of change'? It's a torus: a doughnut or vortex.
As you can see the torus is the archtype of a vortex: the classic tornado. In the classic archtype, there is no hole in the center (or at least an infinitely tiny one) but I've left it "expanded" here for purposes of illustration.
Figure one shows the circle: a line on the surface of the torus. If we imagine the center of the torus as coming together (as mentioned above) and the torus rotating in on itself, as in figure 2, then seen from above, the circle would begin as a point, expand out as a circle, and shrink back into a point.
Figure two shows the rolling circular action, from the edges, toward the center, whereas figure 3 shows the other form of circular action, around the center.
If these two actions are combined, then the result is figure 4, a spiral that is the classic vortex.
The shape of change is this: disolution, coming together in a point, and dissolving again - a torus.
In fact, if you were to push a torus thru a plane, as the example on the right shows (left column), you'd have, when seen from the top (right column) an archtype of cell division...
It is my contention that this is how we humans interact with our universe. This is our one and only shape of change.
Some examples: atoms; galaxies; solar sytems; strange attractors; the food chain; night & day; trees; the water cycle (ocean to clouds to rivers to ocean); the nervous system; the circulatory system; the digestive system; (even life's physical structure itself is (basically) topologically a 'tube'); life & death, events (the gradual aggregation of tiny circumstances culminates in a moment and then moves on toward the next moment [imagine the events leading up to an argument; the argument; and the resolution] and even time itself [past, present, future].)
In fact, I cannot think of a single human experience, subjective or objective, that does not fit into this form.
This also implies that all change is exchange. And this, in turn, is why all great theories are tertiary in expression.
Can computers think?
In the mean time, can we make a computer think? Well, pumping a computer full of individual bits of 'knowledge' will never give rise to consciousness, nor will pumping it full of rules.
But here's what might come close:
a) hooking together thousands of processors, each with
b) individual and differing data gathering devices;
c) each responding by noting its own type of change in its own database;
d) and with a mechanism between all for sharing that diversity of information.
------------taken from the article "Musings: A description of the nature of changing processes and time" Copyright 1991 Tracy Valleau.